From time to time, various organizations and performers send me
information, usually in the form of a press release (which I will
plagarize heavily here). A recent transmittal from the Indianapolis
Symphony caught my attention in particular. It's an evaluation of
the Symphony's School Partnership Program, now in it's sixth year.
The comprehensive independent evaluation and assessment was conducted
by Dr. Robert Horowitz, Associate Director of the Center for Arts Education
Research at Teachers College, Columbia University. Five schools were
included in the evaluation. One school was on academic probation for
not meeting academic progress goals prior to joining the program in 2000,
but since has achieved academic success as indicated by reading scores,
which are now the highest in the entire Indianapolis Public Schools
In the School Partnership Program, the Orchestra and the Partnership
Schools collaborate to create lesson plans and curricula incorporating
the arts into classrooms and core subject areas. It is one of the first
orchestra-produced and operated programs of its kind in America, and is
unique among education reform programs currently being utilized in
classrooms around the nation.
The results from this study are significant due to the extensive amount
of data that was compiled by each teacher via assessing and evaluating
every student on eight rating scales: expression, creativity and
imagination, cooperative learning, school engagement and motivation,
academic learning, cultural understanding, musical understanding, and
engagement with in-class activities.
I doubt their findings will be any surprise to most on this list, but
this report does quantify some of the benefits of music learning, and
that seems valuable. Here's the entire report summary:
SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS
Fourth Year Evaluation Program Evaluation
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra School Partnership Program
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) Partnership Program
successfully expanded to the fourth grade while sustaining the
program in kindergarten to third grade.
The ISO continued to provide excellent support for the school
program. The support was evident in organization, staffing,
materials, resources, planning, and respect for the teachers
Each participating teacher received an excellent and comprehensive
set of high-quality resources, including lessons and supplies.
The lessons included objectives, music and art concepts, materials,
teaching strategies, and curriculum connections. A large majority
of teachers reported that the lessons were easy to follow and
adaptable to their curriculum.
Visiting artists were viewed by school teachers as effective,
well-prepared and highly-skilled professionals who engaged
children in music experiences linked to core subjects.
The ISO program was effective in introducing children to musicians,
orchestral music, and the instruments of the orchestra. Children
learned musical concepts and terminology. They practiced listening
with a purpose and learned to compare and contrast different
pieces and genres of music. For many students, this was their
only opportunity to be exposed to aspects of the larger cultural
community. According to teacher assessments, 87% of students
acquired a greater understanding of music, instruments and the
orchestra. 75% of students learned to listen more carefully to
Effective use of professional development opportunities and
effective use of the arts when teaching academic subjects were
significantly associated with perceived gains in students'
academic learning. According to teacher assessments, 84% of
their students understood more about different cultures because
of the ISO program. 66% of their students gained reading and
writing skills, 59% learned social studies more easily, 40%
students learned science more easily, and 36% learned math more
Teachers who were most effective at integrating the arts were
more likely to observe gains in student development in academic,
social and musical areas.
The ISO program helped engage some students who otherwise might
not achieve in school. According to teacher assessments, 60% of
their students were more motivated and engaged in school because
of the ISO program and 95% of students responded enthusiastically
to artist visits.
Overall, teachers expressed strong support for the program.
They particularly valued the available resources, artist visits,
professional development, and the opportunities for children to
learn in new ways.
The ISO successfully involved teachers in the program by
considering their needs, soliciting their input and treating
them as professional partners. Teachers told us that they felt
motivated to participate because they were treated with respect
and their input was valued. The collaborative process of
curriculum development gave them a sense of ownership of the
program and helped them align ISO activities with their school
Teachers described the ISO professional development activities
as effective in helping them integrate the arts into their overall
91% of teachers reported that the workshops helped them integrate the arts.
84% of teachers thought the workshops were very valuable.
93% of teachers thought that the ISO partnership helped them teach
academic subjects in new and productive ways.
88% of teachers reported that they had learned new teaching
techniques that they would continue to use.
98% of teachers found the ISO resources to be very valuable.
88% of teachers reported a better understanding of art and music.
87% of teachers reported they were able to apply knowledge gained in
workshops in their classes.
Participating teachers gained confidence at using the arts in
93% of teachers reported that the arts helped them grow professionally.
74% of teachers described themselves as confident in teaching the arts.
76% of teachers reported that the ISO lessons and resources helped
them teach reading and writing more effectively.
67% of teachers reported that the ISO lessons and resources helped
them teach social studies more effectively.
51% of teachers reported that the ISO lessons and resources helped
them teach science more effectively.
42% of teachers reported that the ISO lessons and resources helped
them teach math more effectively.
Teachers cited time constraints and the impact of high-stakes
testing as the biggest impediment to fuller participation in
74% of teachers found it difficult to make time to integrate the arts.